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Cafcass trials new process for child arrangements


In partnership with the Ministry of Justice, Cafcass has launched the trial of a new process in Dorset to help separated families to agree arrangements for their children.

This new process will affect Child Arrangements Orders and other specific private law proceedings and aims to improve the experiences of the children and families involved. In particular, it will give us the flexibility to amplify children’s voices earlier in the process where needed.

The process is also expected to:

  • provide better support and safer outcomes for children affected by domestic abuse.
  • co-ordinate the response of all agencies involved in the family court proceedings to better meet the needs of children and their families, and reduce the trauma of having to unnecessarily retell their experiences.
  • reduce the likelihood that final orders will break down or families return to court by ensuring the court process is more effective in meeting their needs when they first apply to court.
  • Make proceedings shorter and less adversarial to minimise the negative impact that can have on children’s mental health.

To implement this new process in Dorset, Cafcass will be working alongside the Judiciary, mediation specialists, domestic abuse support providers, family lawyers and HM Courts and Tribunal Service. Recommendations from the Ministry of Justice’s Expert Harm Panel in the Family Courts and from the President of the Family Division’s Private Law Working Group will be implemented and reviewed to understand whether the new process improves outcomes for children and families.

The same new process is also being implemented in North Wales by Cafcass Cymru and the learning from England and Wales will be shared. More information about the trial was announced today by The Ministry of Justice. 

Cafcass Assistant Director in Dorset, Spencer Hird said:
“I am delighted that we have the opportunity to trial this new process in Dorset. We hope that as a result children and families will have a tailored service with fewer hearings before the final court decision, reduced delays and fewer meetings with family court professionals.

“Cafcass is committed to getting things right for children and families and supporting the pilot of this new process for child arrangements is a positive step towards improving private family law proceedings.”